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June 3, 2011 / ccollinsonjones1

Gym in the park

Imagine a playground for adults; only instead of fun things like slides and wobbly animals on springs, there are dull things like leg presses. There’s also some artfully branded graffiti and everything is painted in funky neons.

The machines are operated without a power source, so rely mostly on your own body weight to provide resistance. That makes them a bit too gentle for getting a proper sweat on, like when women’s magazines tell you to lift tins of baked beans to tone your bingo wings.

There’s even a ‘treadmill’: instead of a belt, it has metal poles that rotate as you run over them. This is all very clever, but probably a little unnecessary when you could just run around the park.

Initially, I was skeptical. Surely the park provides opportunity enough to exercise – run around it, throw a Frisbee. But, on second thought, if you’re too shy for public exercise, having equipment in a sectioned-off area where others are doing the same thing takes away the embarrassment.

The novelty helps too – it feels like a free gym rather than a modified park, a gift not another way for your local council to remind you that everyone’s a bit fat.

I admire the idea – free fitness for all, in an open, sociable space. There is a real sense of community there on a sunny evening: people playing football in the park, teenage boys playing basketball, mums with kids meeting to use the machines together.

I do wonder if they’ve missed a trick though. Why make poor copies of gym equipment? Why not create a fitness playground? Why not invent something else entirely like a climbing frame for grownups?

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One Comment

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  1. ov / Jun 6 2011 4:55 pm

    I think you’re bang on it – a playground with climbing frames and monkey bridges and ropes and that swirly plate thing and a wood plank over a ditch – a bit ape like, but oh so fun!

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